Exploitation

M. Night Shyamalan has had a rocky directorial career, to say the least. He stunned movie-goers with early flicks like Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. However, his stories seemed to slip into some sort of twist-obsessed cesspool that became less and less charming for fans. Those twists that initially made him famous were quickly making him infamous. Most film lovers had chalked his career up to an odd descent into ludicrousy.

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Don’t let Electric Boogaloo fool you: Roger Corman started it.

Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus simply improved upon the cheapo tyrant formula that came to dominate drive-in style cinema in the 60s and 70s. Technically, The Weinstein Brothers perfected the mold, taking the schlock-factory model and somehow managing to add genuine quality into the mix (a shocker, I know). But none did it quite like Golan & Globus, whose somewhat unbelievable rags to riches story was fueled by pure, maniacal love for cinema. And much like he captured the Outback mayhem that was Australian genre cinema in the 70s with Not Quite Hollywood, Mark Hartley has returned to give us The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films. Only by narrowing the focus of the film and making it much more about Golan & Globus as people (though the constant talking head impersonations of the brothers threaten to turn the cousins into cartoons), it gives Electric Boogaloo an intimate edge that the director’s previous cinema documentaries lacked. Frankly speaking, Mark Hartley’s third picture devoted to the niche racks at your local video store (or, more accurately in 2014: Netflix Queue) might be the best movie about movies since Ted Demme’s A Decade Under the Influence. (more…)

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Welcome back to our newly revamped “Retro Reviews” column, where we explore both the movies you know and love, as well as the oft overlooked gems you should be spending more time with. Our second entry is the crazy, career re-defining Arnold Schwarzenegger action romp, Commando (1985)…

The restless feminist inside of me always cringes whenever I use the term “man movie”, but that is undoubtedly what Commando is. Buff, dumb and slathered in baby oil, Mark L. Lester (Class of 1984Firestarter) made the ultimate “one man army” picture; a breakneck barrage of insanity whose brief moments of tenderness are simply a ploy to get you to start fist-pumping once Arnold starts dropping dudes off of cliffs and spouting one-liners. Filled with an assortment of BAMFs* (including Vernon Wells, who seems to have stolen and kept some unused post-apocalyptic garb from The Road Warrior) and a legion of indigenous peoples (from wherever) for Arnold Schwarzenegger to mow down in a wave of righteous anger, Commando might be the greatest meat-head film the ’80s ever produced. A marvel of economy and pacing, its brisk ninety minutes feel like five once John Matrix’s daughter (Alyssa Milano) is kidnapped by dictator hopeful Arius (Dan Hedaya, in full brown-face), thus sending the titular destroyer of small nations on his quest to kill as many human beings as possible. In short — Commando is a masterpiece of masculine moviemaking; an Adonis of action craft tailor-made to satiate the blood lust of teenage boys.

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